Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Sicily. 1486. A crypt. Human bones abound. Five nuns are being drug down a stone staircase by brute force into the crypt by cloaked men. The nuns are visibly upset and are screaming their little nun hearts out. The nuns are then forced up onto crosses and nails are driven through their hearts. Roll credits.

Ooh, boy, I think. This is gonna be good! Not only is it directed by Lucio Fulci, which signals gore galore, it promises creepy nuns, a hot blond, and mystery steeped in archeology. Yes, yes, this is something that will undoubtedly please me.
Toronto. 1990. A seance. Liza, a young archeology student, envisions the aforementioned nuns' demise. She breaks into hysterics at the vision while her seance mates look at her with perplexity. When she awakens, she doesn't want her professor and mentor to find out she's been taking part in seances, because it would hurt her reputation as an archaeologist. She's apparently slated to make a journey to Sicily for a dig. Yes, the very same Sicily where those nuns were crucified hundreds of years ago.
Sicily. 1990. Archaeological dig in progress at some ruins. Liza arrives and feels like something is alive in there. Paul, her boss, thinks she's not much of a scientist; apparently he found out about her penchant for contacting the spirit word. I think what he's really trying to say is that she's not much of a scientist because she's a woman. Meanwhile, the townies want the archaeologists out of town because 'the past is dead and the dead must rest in peace.' They keep it pretty cryptic but you can totally tell the mayor and the townfolk want these Canadians outta there. A butcher and some others decide the dig will only bring ruin to their town and decide to be secretive and openly hostile about their history. Oh, and they're perfectly ready to kill to protect their secrets.
Of course, the dumb Westerners don't get it. Liza's all like, I don't understand, why don't they want us knowing they killed a bunch of nuns hundreds of years ago? But she doesn't say that really, because she doesn't know what's going on with the nuns outside of her seance vision and some weird dreams, but she still doesn't get it. After some locals give her the side eye, she decides it would be a good idea to go off exploring the town on her own. She finds some bones and things, acts petulant while music builds to a crescendo.
Now at this point, we're about an hour in maybe. While it's been fairly sort of interesting, there has been nary a boob, eye gouging, or second creepy nun appearance in sight. Yeah, there was a dream sequence that looked straight out of an 80's music video and a drunken ex-pat gets crossbowed by a ghostly naked-ish lady who I'm hoping is a nun, but other than that, this lacks the early Fulci vibe of The Beyond or City of the Walking Dead. I know we're dealing with nuns here, but come on. This is Fulci-lite, or made-for-TV Fulci.
So as I'm complaining, as I usually do, a dead-looking but not really dead woman in dangly gold earrings appears to Liza in an ancient library where Liza has gone to research her otherworldly visions. The woman makes an appointment to meet with Liza later than night and Liza's fellow archaeologists have a bonfire party. Two party goers hear some girlish giggling (is there any other kind of giggling?) and leave the party to investigate the source. Suddenly, they find themselves impaled on large spikes. Finally, an impalement! But since I didn't really know the guys that get impaled, I'm apt to not really care.
Next morning, as the police drag the bodies off the spikes, they warn Paul and company that the village is superstitious and they'll likely interpret this impalement business as a bad sign. Impalement is a bad sign? Of what? Liza takes this as her cue to go wandering off around the village again and meets back up with the golden earring lady. She tells Liza the ins and outs of the unpleasantness surrounding the nuns in Liza's village. It turns out the five young nuns had a covenant with Satan. Cue the 70's bow chicka wow wow music and sexy times. The nuns get it on in some sort of orgy situation, you know how Satan enjoys a good orgy, and then the nuns kill the men involved as an offering to Satan, I'm guessing. But this is not as cool as it sounds, because the nuns are not wearing their habits. They could have at least been engaged in sexy times while wearing their habits to let us know they're nuns. They could be anyone that has a covenant with Satan! What's important here is that they're NUNS! Damn Fulci, what was he thinking? If you're gonna have nuns having sex in your movie, at least have them appear as nuns.
So we find out one nun got preggers from the orgy and she has the baby and burns it in a pyre (Hail Satan!). Then we are treated to a severed head on an anchor and the library lady gets her eyes ripped out by a bunch of cats, which surprisingly, didn't really bother me. (I did, however, have to leave the theatre last night when we went to see Drag Me To Hell when I figured she was going to sacrifice the kitten. I'm such a loser when it comes to harm befalling cats in movies. I am truly the biggest wuss when I see a cat in a movie and I know it's gonna get killed. I can watch someone get their heart ripped out all day long, but if a cat gets killed, I'm outta there.) It all looks pretty fake and is fairly restrained, like the rest of the flick.
Some detectives get involved and some possibilities are considered, some conclusions are jumped to, some suspects are fingered (Paul namely), and an archaeologist gets ripped in two while a young child watches on with no given context. Blah, blah. Not to say this isn't without its merits. It attempts to be more than it is, becoming an exercise in what it could have been, which can be entertaining it its own right. I paired it with the Brian Yuzna-produced The Nun for a nun-ly double feature and was more disappointed by that movie than Demonia. Even though it featured a really murderous CG nun who could appear only in water and the hottest Spanish priest I have ever laid eyes on. Good lord, he was so hot. I actually felt sad when he gets killed; that's when you know someone is hot, when your cold black heart melts a little when an evil nun opens a water valve and pushes him or her onto a rusty metal pipe. Anyway, digress digress. You need more nun movies in your life. You could do worse than Demonia.


  1. I'm in total agreement with your review. It's a fun flick which could have been so much more, especially coming from Fulci. I do love the Mattei-ish Zombi 3 but avoid the awful Sodoma's Ghost that he made around this time, because it's easily the worst film that I've seen of his.

  2. I enjoyed "Demonia". :) It was one of my first Fulci flicks I saw along with "City" and "The Beyond".

  3. While not one of my favorite Fulci flicks, it has it's moments and compared to some of the other films towards the end of his career (like this one), it's not that bad. This was to be Fulci's last stab at doing major features like The Beyond and City of the Living Dead and break away from doing TV movies, as you can probably tell, it didn't quite hit its mark.

    Great review!

  4. Hans, haven't seen Sodoma's Ghost and can't say I've heard of it either. If I run across it in my movie watching travels, I'll likely watch it for sake of being a completist, but I'll heed your warning :)

    I haven't visited Zombi 3 in awhile, or many of Fulci's TV efforts. I also want to check out his comedy oeuvre; he apparently made nine comedies with some guys considered the Italian Abbott and Costello. Interesting to say the least, but likely not the eye gouging, seeing eye dog throat ripping, or nun sex orgies we've all grown so accustomed to.

    Sometimes a director isn't always the director we want him to be. I have to remember that, especially when watching the Italians. Look at Sam Raimi. I saw Drag Me To Hell last night and loved it. Grew up with Evil Dead as one of my first horror films. I could give a shit less about Spider Man. Same goes for Fulci. Love love love Zombi, could care less really about Don't Torture a Duckling (although I need to give that one a second chance sometime soon.) You get the idea.

    Still can't wait for my copy of Cat in the Brain. Fulci on Fulci. I've been waiting a decade to see that one.